Why ban Noah in Islamic countries?


Azly Rahman

A good philosophical movie ‘Noah’ is; classic arguments between Fate and Free Will, juxtaposed with the Epic of Gilgamesh I am currently discussing. Now I know how Noah looks like. Like Russell Crowe! Good to see how the nephilim, the fallen angles, and the animals in Noah’s ark looked like.

Thank you Hollywood.

I suppose I am done imagining what all these looked like via readings/oral literacy. Now there is George-Lucas-Pixar-standard visual literacy. There is a nice element of fantasy in it, especially in the Transformer-looking fallen angels. I thought those were ugly-looking creations with some good thoughts.

Too bad many Muslims countries have banned ‘Noah’ for flimsy reasons when the value of the movie is a thousand times more. I would lift the ban and even use the movie in all classes in those countries. Can talk about cosmological doctrines, Creation myths, the philosophy of Good vs Evil, Love vs Duty/Dharma, and many more themes of human existence.

I think we should replace those in the Censorship Board and put in more Humanities and Philosophy scholars in them who understand not only deeply engaging English dialogues but comparative scriptures, pragmatism, and the value of cinema in teaching Cross-Cultural Perspectives.

The younger generation will benefit from these approaches. It is their future. Because they are millennial children (of the 21st century) and have mastered Visual Literacy.

Above all, the old have to give way to the young of which we cannot underestimate their natural urge to ask questions and philosophise. They will be the ones inheriting this troubling world. A world awaiting another deluge.

But then again that’s what the Islamic society of today is about – devoid of educational philosophers, cosmopolitan thinkers, and deconstructionists.

I shall not worship Russell Crowe as Noah after watching the movie, now that the Babylonian mythical figure has been represented by Hollywood. As a matter of fact, I have never been keen in worshipping anybody – not even Al Pacino as the Godfather.

Now why the ban? Isn’t this already the 21st century, the Neo-Frankenstein Era and not the Dark Ages?

Copycat banning?

Malaysia need not follow the eagerness of banning good movies such as ‘Noah’ just because other ‘Islamic countries’ decided to ban it. I thought Malaysia is more progressive than Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, Pakistan, and even Indonesia in matters of dealing with liberal ideas related to the advancement of thinking in society.

What is there to emulate in countries that ban women from driving, labelling atheists as terrorists, giving light sentence to a father who raped and murdered his five-year old daughter, or to look up to a country whose people shoot little girls in the face just for the crime of going to school to get an education?

What good reason to share fatwas with those countries whose citizens are kept at a low level of literacy enough to just memorise the scriptures but not to think, and enough to be controlled by the cleric and the monarchs?

Malaysia is blessed with a multicultural mix of peoples and a good social environment wherein people of different faiths, be they of the monotheistic or polytheistic systems, not only can learn to respect each other’s traditions but even, a mature society, engage in good philosophical discussions stimulated by good movies such a ‘Noah’ or even ‘The Passion of the Christ’ and ‘The Mahabharata’ created by Peter Brooks.

This dialogical nature of being members of a civil society always in the lifelong-learning mode and in deep respect for knowledge and new interpretations of old ideas ought to be what Malaysia is – not the book and movie banning and jailing-of-citizens-without-trial kind of Malaysia we deplore. Not the fork-tongued confusion-generating officials in an MH370 global media conference – kind of Malaysia we are seeing.

But this Malaysia is controlled by groups that are anti-knowledge, anti-new interpretations, and always afraid of the shadow of their own ignorance.